I was so young when it started that I can’t even recall how old I was when it happened the first time, but I know it had been happening...
That’s what stared back at me. Ninety-eight pounds of skin and bones is what I had turned into for a 19-year-old girl. My depression and anxiety had gotten so bad that I was skipping meals for the entire day, in exchange for one glass of milk, and maybe a burrito from Taco Bell. For the longest time, I had heard that depression, mental breakdowns…mental illness…everything wasn’t real. That it was all just in my head. But I’ve learned that it’s not. It’s not some made-up tall tale. It’s 100% real.
I remember being in chemistry class two years ago and trying to use the scale to measure out something in the lab. I kept messing up. Everyone around me was able to use the scale with ease, and go on to finish the experiment. But I stood, watching person after person leave while I still struggled. And I kept becoming more and more frustrated with myself, more and more anxious with myself. I tried for thirty minutes. I could feel the panic settling inside me. My hands wouldn’t stop shaking. My voice was shaking, and I was crying. Out of, what felt like nowhere. I knew in my head I was trying to control it. But unfortunately, panic attacks come uninvited and leave you in pieces. What the majority of people may have considered a simple task, had turned into my worst nightmare. There were days where I would skip class only because I was too anxious to go. I would stay in bed, either staring at the ceiling or attempt to sleep it off.
With the whirlwind of feelings bottled up inside me, my mind began to wander to suicidal thoughts. I’m sure everyone guessed something was off, but either they didn’t want to seem rude by asking or they just didn’t care enough to. Let me tell you a little something, loneliness, and mental illness don’t mix well. But that’s then.
Yes, I’m still here. Yes, I still struggle some days. A lot of days actually. No, there’s not some Internet bot writing this. But I’m still here. Whoever you are reading this, whether you’re going through a mental illness or know someone else with a mental illness…I want you to know that even if you don’t feel loved, I love you. As do many other strangers. You’re not alone in your struggle, and your struggle certainly doesn’t define you. I know this firsthand, that getting better is much easier in words than it is in actions. And I think the first step to getting better is learning your own worth. And I think a great way to do that is to discover your own talents. Everyone is unique in their own way and so are you. I’m not exactly sure how to end this…just as I didn’t really know how to begin it. But I want you to know, that every time you feel like you’ve got no one, remember this stranger’s words. You’ve got me and so many other strangers praying for you. Don’t give up. This world needs you.